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Harper's Young People, September 7, 1880 - An Illustrated Weekly

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Project Gutenberg's Harper's Young People, September 7, 1880, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: Harper's Young People, September 7, 1880  An Illustrated Weekly Author: Various Release Date: June 15, 2009 [EBook #29134] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HARPER'S YOUNG PEOPLE, SEP 7, 1880 ***
Produced by Annie McGuire
WALLY, THE WRECK-BOY. THE MORAL PIRATES. BITS OF ADVICE. THE HOMES OF THE FARMING ANTS. A ROYAL THIEF. THE STORY OF THE AMERICAN NAVY. IN SEPTEMBER. WHAT THE BABIES SAID. OUR POST-OFFICE BOX. WIGGLES
VOL. I.—NOB. 45.PURBLOISTHHEDEBRY SN, AHERWEYP OR & RK. Tuesday, Copyright, 1880, by HARPER& September 7, 1880. BROTHERS.
PRICEFOURCENTS. $1.50 per Year, in Advance.
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LIGHT-HOUSE SKETCHES. WALLY, THE WRECK-BOY. A STORY OF THE NORTHERN COAST. BY FRANK H. TAYLOR. His real name is Wallace, but his mates always called him "Wally," and although he is now a big broad-shouldered young mariner, he is still pointed out as the "wreck-boy." One summer not long ago Wally sailed with me for a week out upon the blue waters across the bar after blue-fish, or among the winding tide-water creeks for sheep's-head, and it was then, by means of many questions, that I heard the following story. Wally's father was a light-house keeper. The great brick tower stood aloft among the sand-hills, making the little house which nestled at its base look dwarfish and cramped. Wally was about twelve years old, and seldom had the good fortune to find a playmate. Two miles down the beach, at Three Pine Point, stood a handsome cottage that was occupied by Mr. Burton, a city gentleman and a great ship-owner, during the summer, and sometimes his daughter Elsie, a bright-eyed little girl, would come riding along the sands from the cottage behind a small donkey, and ask Wally to show her his "museum." It was a matter of great pride with the boy to exhibit the many curious shells, bits of sea-weed, sharks' teeth, fish bones, and the full-rigged ships he had whittled out and completed on winter nights, and Elsie was an earnest listener to all his explanations, showing him in return the pictures she had made in her sketch-book. Not far from the light-house stood a life-saving station—a strong two-story building, shingled upon its sides to make it warmer. Here, through the winter months, lived a crew of brave fishermen, who were always ready to launch the life-boat, and go out through the stormy waters to help shipwrecked sailors. Wally was a favorite here, and spent much of his time listening to the tales they told of ocean dangers and escapes; but he liked best of all to trudge along the sands with the guard on dark nights, lantern in hand, watching for ships in distress. The captain of the crew, who was an old seaman, taught him the use of the compass and quadrant, and other matters of navigation, while the rest showed him how to pull an oar, steer, and swim, until he could manage a boat as well as any of them.
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Just before sunset each day Wally's father climbed the iron steps of the light tower, and started the lamp, which slowly revolved within the great crystal lens, flashing out four times each minute its beam of warning across the stormy waters. Every few hours it was the watcher's duty to pump oil into a holder above the light, from which it flowed in a steady stream to the round wicks below. If this was neglected, the lamp would cease to burn. Wally, who was an ingenious boy, had placed a small bit of mirror in his little bedroom in the attic so that as he lay in bed he could see the reflection of the flash across the waters. One wild October evening he had watched it until he fell asleep, and in the night was awakened by the roaring gusts of the gale which swept over the lonely sands, and he missed the faithful flash upon his mirror.The light had gone out! Many ships out upon the sea were sailing to and fro, and there was no light to guide them or warn them of dangerous shoals. Nearer and nearer some of them were drifting to their fate, and still the beacon gave no warning of danger. The light-keeper, hours before, had gone out upon the narrow gallery about the top of the tower to look at the storm, just as a large wild fowl, bewildered by the glare, had flown with great speed toward it, and striking the keeper's head, had laid him senseless upon the iron grating. I have seen fractures in the lenses, or glass reflectors, of light-houses as large as your two fists, such as it would require a heavy sledge-hammer to break by human force, caused by the fierce flight of wild fowl; and a netting of iron wire is usually spread upon three sides of the lens as a protection to the light. Sometimes a large number of dead birds will be found at the foot of the light-house in the morning after a stormy autumn night, when wild-geese are flying southward. Wally sprang from his bed, full of dread lest his father had fallen to the ground; for he knew he would never sleep at his post of duty. But first in his thoughts was the need of starting the lamp again. Calling to his mother, he sped up the spiral stairway, which never seemed so long before, and began to pump the oil. Then he lighted the wick from a small lantern burning in the watch-room, and pumped again until the oil tank was quite full. His mother in the mean time had found the form of the keeper, and partially restored him. Wally stepped out upon the gallery to find his father's hat, and looking seaward, saw something which for a moment made him sick with terror. In the midst of the breakers lay a large square-rigged vessel, helplessly pounding to pieces upon the outer bar. In the intervals of the wind's moaning Wally could hear the despairing cries of those on board, who seemed to call to him to save them. The life-saving station was not yet opened for the season. The captain and his men lived upon the mainland, across a wide and swift-flowing channel in the marsh, called the "Thoroughfare." To reach them was of the most vital importance, for their hands only could drag out and man the heavy surf-boat, or fire the mortar, and rig the life-car. All this passed through Wally's mind in a few seconds, and knowing that his helpless father could do nothing, and that an alarm might make him worse, he sped silently down the stairway, and setting fire to a "Coston torch," such as are used by the coast-guard in cases of wreck, he rushed from the house, swinging the torch, that burned with a bright red flame, above his head as he ran. Half a mile across the sands there was a small boat landing, where a skiff usually lay moored. Toward this Wally sped with all his strength; but, alas! the waves had lifted it, the winds had broken it from its moorings, and it was floating miles away down the "Thoroughfare," and now Wally stood upon the landing, in the blackness of the night, full of despair. He might swim, but he had never tried half the width of the channel before. He looked into the blackness beyond, and hesitated; then at the light-house, where his mother still sat in the little watch-room ministering to his injured father; then he thought of the poor men out in the breakers, whose lives depended upon his reaching the crew. But a moment longer he stood, and then throwing off his coat, he tied a sleeve securely about a post so it would be known, in case he should fail, how he had lost his life. And now he was in the icy waters. The wind helped him along, but the incoming tide swept him far out of his course. As he gained the middle of the channel he thought how bitter the consequences might be to his father if the crew of the ship were lost, for who would believe the story of the wild fowl's blow? This nerved his tired arms, but the effort was too much for his strength. He paused, and threw up his arms. As his form sank beneath the waves, his toes touched the muddy bottom, and his hand swept among some weeds. One more effort as he came to the surface, and now he could stand with his mouth out of water. A moment's rest, and he was tearing aside the dense flags that bordered the channel. The ca tain, a ood mile from the Thorou hfare, had left his warm bed to fasten
a loose window-shutter, when he saw a small form tottering toward him, and Wally fell, weak and voiceless, at his feet. Restoratives were brought, and the boy told his story. Ten minutes later half a dozen of the crew were on their way to the landing, Wally, now fully recovered, foremost among them. He seemed to possess wonderful strength. They crossed the channel, and dragged out the great life-boat from its house. It hardly appeared possible to launch it in such a sea, but each man, in his excitement, had the strength of two, and without waiting to be bid, Wally leaped into the stern and grasped the helm. "Well done, boy!" cried the captain. "I'll take an oar: we need all help to-night." Through the night the faithful crew pulled, bringing load after load of men, women, and children from the wreck of theArgonautto the shore, until all were saved. The little house under the light was well filled, and the sailors were crowded into the life-saving station. "Where is my father?" asked Wally; and as a man came forward with his head bandaged, in reply, the boy sank down, and a blackness came over his eyes. When he recovered he was in a beautiful room, into which the sun shone, lighting up the bright walls, pictures, and carpets. He was on a pretty bedstead, and a strange lady sat by the window talking to his mother. He thought it all a dream. The door opened, and Mr. Burton came in, dressed in a fisherman's suit. How queer he looked in such a garb! and Wally laughed at the sight, and thought that when he awoke he would tell his mother about it. It happened that the ship which had come ashore was one belonging to Mr. Burton, who was on board, returning from a trip to the Mediterranean. So he had opened the cottage at Three Pine Point, and as the little house under the light was full, had insisted upon having Wally, with some others, brought to his summer home, where he could care for them. Everybody had learned of the boy's brave swim, all had seen him in the life-boat, and they were anxious to have him recover soon. Wally, too, learned that the ship had become helpless long before she had struck the shore, and that her loss was not caused by his father's mishap. When Wally had recovered, Mr. Burton and some of the other passengers insisted upon taking him to the city, where they had a full suit of wrecker's clothes made for him—cork jacket, sou'wester, and all. He was also presented with a silver watch and a medal for his bravery. When he was dressed in his new suit, Miss Elsie made a sketch of him, whereupon Wally blushed more than he had done during all the praises lavished upon him. At the close of the next summer Mr. Burton arranged with the light-keeper to let him send Wally to a city school, and for the next four years the boy lived away from the little house on the sands, making only occasional visits to his home. Then Mr. Burton took him into his office, where he worked faithfully for two years; but his old life by the sea caused a longing for a sailor's career, and his employer wisely allowed him to go upon a cruise in one of his ships. Upon the following voyage he was made a mate, and this year he is to command a new ship now being built. Captain Wally was asked the other day to suggest a name for the new craft, and promptly gave as his choice theElsie. And Elsie Burton, who is now an artist, has painted two pictures for the Captain's cabin. One is called "The Loss of theArgonaut," and the other, "Wally, the Wreck Boy. " -
[Begun in No. 31 of HARPER'SYOUNGPEOPLE, June 1.] THE MORAL PIRATES. BY W. L. ALDEN. CHAPTERXV. There was only one fault to be found with Brandt Lake—there was hardly anything to shoot in its vicinity. Occasionally a deer could be found; but at the season of the year when the boys were at the lake it was contrary to law to kill deer. It was known that there were bears in that part of the country as well as lynxes—or catamounts, as they are generally called; but they were so scarce that no one thought of hunting them. Harry did succeed in shooting three pigeons and a quail, and Tom shot a gray squirrel; but the bears, deer, catamounts, and ducks that they had expected to shoot did not show themselves.
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On the other hand, they had any quantity of fishing. Perch and cat-fish swarmed all around the island; and large pickerel, some of them weighing six or eight pounds, could be caught by trolling. Two miles farther north was another lake that was full of trout, and the boys visited it several times, and found out how delicious a trout is when it is cooked within half an hour after it is taken from the water. In fact, they lived principally upon fish, and became so dainty that they would not condescend to cook any but the choicest trout and the plumpest cat-fish and pickerel. It must be confessed that there was a good deal of monotony in their daily life. In the morning somebody went for milk, after which breakfast was cooked and eaten. Then one of the boys would take the gun and tramp through the woods in the hope of finding something to shoot, while the others would either go fishing or lie in the shade. Once they devoted a whole day to sailing entirely around the lake in the boat, and another day a long rainstorm kept them inside of the tent most of the time. With these exceptions, one day was remarkably like another; and at the end of two weeks they began to grow a little tired of camping, and to remember that there were ways of enjoying themselves at home. Their final departure from their island camp was caused by an accident. They had decided to row to the southern end of the lake, and engage a team to meet them the following week, and to carry them to Glenn's Falls, where they intended to ship the boat on board a canal-boat bound for New York, and to return home by rail. To avoid the heat of the sun, they started down the lake immediately after breakfast, and forgot to put out the fire before they left the island. After they had rowed at least a mile, Tom, who sat facing the stern, noticed a light wreath of smoke rising from the island, and remarked, "Our fire is burning yet; we ought not to have gone and left it." Harry looked back, and saw that the cloud of smoke was rapidly increasing. "It's not the fire that's making all that smoke," he exclaimed. "What is it, then?" asked Tom. "Perhaps it's water," said Joe. "I always thought that where there was smoke there must be fire; but Harry says it isn't fire." "I mean," continued Harry, "that we didn't leave fire enough to make so much smoke. It must have spread and caught something." "Caught the tent, most likely," said Tom. "Let's row back right away and put it out." "What's the use?" interrupted Jim. "That tent is as dry as tinder, and will burn up before we can get half way there." "We must get back as soon as we can," cried Harry. "All our things are in the tent. Row your best, boys, and we may save them yet." The boat was quickly turned and headed toward the camp. "There's one reason why I'm not particularly anxious to help put that fire out," Joe remarked, as they approached the island, and could see that a really alarming fire was in progress. "What's that?" asked Harry. "As near as I can calculate, there must be about two pounds—"
DESTRUCTION OF THE CAMP.—DRAWN BYA. B. FROST. He was interrupted by a loud report from the island, and a shower of pebbles, sticks, and small articles—among which a shoe and a tin pail were recognized —shot into the air. "—of powder," Joe continued, "in the flask. I thought it would blow up; and now that it's all gone, I don't mind landing on the island." "Everything must be ruined," exclaimed Jim. "Lucky for us that we put on our shoes this morning," Tom remarked, as he rowed steadily on. "That must have been one of my other pair that just went up." When they reached the island they could not at first land, on account of the heat of the flames; but they could plainly see that the tent and everything in it had been totally destroyed. After waiting for half an hour the fire burned itself out, so that they could approach their dock and land on the smoking ash heap that an hour before had been such a beautiful shady spot. There was hardly anything left that was of any use. A tin pan, a fork, and the hatchet were found uninjured; but all their clothing and other stores were either burned to ashes or so badly scorched as to be useless. Quite overwhelmed by their disaster, the boys sat down and looked at one another. "We've got to go home now, whether we want to or not," Harry said, as he poked the ashes idly with a stick. "Well, we meant to go home in a few days anyway," said Tom; "so the fire hasn't got very much the better of us." "But I hate to have everything spoiled, and to have to go in this sort of way. Our tin pans and fishing-tackle aren't worth much, but all our spare clothes have gone." "You've got your uncle's gun in the boat, so that's all right," suggested Tom, encouragingly. "As long as the gun and the boat are safe, we needn't mind about a few flannel shirts and things." "But it's such a pity to be driven away, when we were having such a lovely time " continued Harry. , "That's rubbish, Harry," said Joe. "We were all beginning to get tired of camping out. I think it's jolly to have the cruise end this way, with a lot of fire-works. It's like the transformation scene at the theatre. Besides, it saves us the trouble of carrying a whole lot of things back with us." "The thing to do now," remarked Tom, "is to row right down to the outlet, and get a team to take us to Glenn's Falls this afternoon. We can't sleep here, unless we build a hut, and then we wouldn't have a blanket to cover us. Don't let's waste any more time talking about it." "That's so. Take your places in the boat, boys, and we'll start for home." So
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saying, Harry led the way to the boat, and in a few moments theWhitewingwas homeward bound. The boys were lucky enough to find a man who engaged to take them to Glenn's Falls in time to catch the afternoon train for Albany. They stopped at the Falls only long enough to see theWhitewingsafely on board a canal-boat, and they reached Albany in time to go down the river on the night boat. After a supper that filled the colored waiters with astonishment, the boys selected arm-chairs on the forward deck, and began to talk over the cruise. They all agreed that they had had a splendid time, in spite of hard work and frequent wettings. "We'll go on another cruise next summer, sure," said Harry. "Where shall we go?" Tom was the first to reply. Said he, "I've been thinking that we can do better than we did this time." "How so?" asked the other boys. "TheWhitewingis an awfully nice boat," Tom continued, "but she is too small. We ought to have a boat that we can sleep in comfortably, and without getting wet every night." "But then," Harry suggested, "you couldn't drag a bigger boat round a dam." "We can't drag theWhitewing round much of a dam. She's too big to be handled on land, and too little to be comfortable. Now here's my plan. " "Let's have it," cried the other boys. "We can hire a cat-boat about twenty feet long, and she'll be big enough, so that we can rig up a canvas cabin at night. We can anchor her, and sleep on board her every night. We can carry mattresses, so we needn't sleep on stones and stumps—" "And coffee-pots," interrupted Joe. "—and we can take lots of things, and live comfortably. We can sail instead of rowing; and though I like to row as well as the next fellow, we've had a little too much of that. Now we'll get a cat-boat next summer, and we'll cruise from New York Bay to Montauk Point. We can go all the way through the bays on the south side, and there are only three places where we will have to get a team of horses to drag the boat across a little bit of flat meadow. I know all about it, for I studied it out on the map one day. What do you say to that for a cruise?" "I'll go," said Harry. "And I'll go," said Jim. "Hurrah for the cat-boat!" said Joe. "We can be twice as moral and piratical in a sail-boat as we can in a row-boat, even if it is the dear littleWhitewing." THE END.
a yak; on his back.
In Africa wandered A jaguar jumped up
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a frown, thee down; heavy, alack!"
Said the yak, with "Prithee quick get You're almost too
BITS OF ADVICE. ENTERTAINING FRIENDS. BY AUNT MARJORIE PRECEPT. I once overheard a little bit of talk between two school-girls, one of whom said, "Well, the Ames family are coming to our house next week, and for my part I dread it. I don't expect to have a mite of enjoyment while they are with us. I can not entertain people." I have forgotten her companion's reply, but I know that the feeling is common among young people, and when guests arrive they often slip off the responsibility of making them happy upon papa and mamma. This is hardly fair. The art of hospitality is really as easily acquired as a knowledge of geography or grammar. In the first place, the young girls in a family when expecting friends of their own age should see that their rooms are pleasantly arranged, the beds freshly made, toilet soap provided, and plenty of towels and water at hand. Not new towels, dear girls; they are hard and slippery, and nobody likes them. There should be a comb and brush, a button-hook, pins in plenty, and space in the closet to hang dresses and coats, as well as an empty drawer in the bureau at the guest's service. By attending to these little things themselves, girls can take quite a burden from their busy mothers. Then both boys and girls should have in mind some sort of plan by which to carry on operations during the days of their friends' stay. So far as possible it is well to lay aside unnecessary work for the time. As for the morning and evening duties which belong to every day's course, attend to them faithfully, but do not let them drag. Never make apologies if you happen to have some occupation which you fear may seem very humble in the eyes of your guest. All home service is honorable. If you live in the country there will be fishing, nutting, climbing, riding, driving, and exploring; all of which you can offer to your friends. Be sure that you have fishing-tackle, poles, and baskets, harness in order, and, in short, everything in readiness for your various expeditions. To most out-of-door excursions a nice luncheon is an agreeable addition, and you need not upset the house nor disturb the cook in order to arrange this, for sandwiches, gingerbread, cookies, crackers, and similar simple refreshments, can be obtained in most homes without much difficulty. Every boy, as well as every girl, should know how to make a good cup of coffee by a woodland fire. In town there are museums, picture-galleries, and concerts, as well as various shows, to delight guests from a distance. In the season you can take them to the beach or the parks. But whether in town or country, do not wear your friends out by too much going about, nor ever let them feel that you are taking trouble for them, nor yet that they are neglected. Forget your own convenience, but remember their comfort. Study their tastes and consult their wishes in a quiet way.
A LIVELY TEAM.
THE HOMES OF THE FARMING ANTS. BY CHARLES MORRIS. Woodbine Cottage was just a gem of a place. If any of my readers have ever seen a gem of a place, they will know exactly what that means. For those who have not been so fortunate, I will say that it was the prettiest of cottages, with no end of angles and gables, of shady nooks and sunny corners, and of cunning ins and outs; while to its very roof the fragrant woodbine climbed and clambered, and the bees buzzed about the honeyed blossoms as if they were just wild with delight. That was Woodbine Cottage itself. But I have said nothing about its surroundings—the neat flower beds, and the prattling brook that ran by just at the foot of the garden, the green lawn as smooth as a table, and the great spreading elm-tree in its centre, against which Uncle Ben Mason was so fond of leaning his chair in the bright summer afternoons, and where Harry and Willie Mason liked nothing better than to lie at his feet on the greensward, and coax him to tell them about the wonderful things he had seen and the marvellous things he had read. It was only the afternoon succeeding that in which he had told them the strange story of the honey ants, and they were at him again, anxious to know something more about ant life. "You know, Uncle Ben," pleaded Harry, coaxingly, "that you said there were  ever so many other queer things about them." "And that they milked cows. And that some of them were just soldiers," broke in Willie, eagerly. "And—and—" The little fellow was quite at a loss for words in his eagerness. "Now, now, now!" cried Uncle Ben; "you don't want me to tell you all at once, I hope?" "Tell us sumfin, Uncle Ben—sumfin of just the queerest you knows," pleaded Willie; "cos I wants to know 'bout them ever so much." "Very well. Suppose I describe the farmer ants." "The farmer ants!" cried Harry, with interest. "Yes, there is a species of ants in Texas that have farms of their own, and gather the grain in when it is ripe, and store it away in their granaries; and some people say that they plant the seed in the spring, just like human farmers. But others think that this part of the story is very doubtful." "You don't believe that, do you, Uncle Ben?" asked Harry, doubtingly. "Why, that would be making them folks at once." "They are very much like folks without that," said his uncle, settling himself back easily in his chair, and gazing down with his kindly glance on his eager young nephews. "If you could see one of their clearings," he continued. "But maybe you don't care to hear about them?" "Yes, we does," cried Willie, eagerly.
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"I do, ever so much. I know that," chimed in Harry. "Well, then, if you will keep just as quiet as two mice, I will tell you the story of our little black farmers. They are, in some ways, the strangest of all ants. You have seen little ant-hills thrown up in the sand about an inch across; but these ants build great solid mounds, surrounded by a level court-yard, sometimes as much as ten or twelve feet in diameter. Here they do not suffer a blade of grass nor a weed to grow, and the whole clearing is as smooth and hard as a barn floor. This is no light labor, I can tell you, for wild plants grow very fast and strong under the hot suns of Texas." "But how do they do it?" asked Harry. "You would laugh to see them," continued his uncle. "They bite off every blade of grass near the root, some seize it with their fore-legs, and twist and pull at it, while others run up to the top of the blade, and bend it down with their weight. It is not long before the great tree, as it must seem to the ants, comes toppling down. The roots are left in the ground to die out, just as a Western wood-cutter leaves the roots of his trees." "It must be a funny sight," exclaimed Harry. "Does they keep stables for their cows?" asked Willie, who could not get over his interest in the ants' milking operations. "Not they. These ants do not keep cows," returned Uncle Ben. "They're mighty queer farmers, then," replied Willie, contemptuously. "They are grain farmers, not dairy farmers," was the amused reply. "But I have not finished telling you about their clearings. There is nothing stranger in the world, when we consider how they are made. They may often be seen surrounded by a circle of tall weeds, great, fast-growing fellows, two or three feet high, that look very much as if they would like to step in on the ants' play-ground. But the active little creatures do not suffer any intrusion upon their domain." "It is odd how they can cut down so many grass trees without tools," said Harry. "They have better tools than you think," replied Uncle Ben. "Their hard, horny mandibles are good cutting instruments, and are used for teeth, saws, chisels, and pincers all in one. They form a sort of compound tool." "I'd like to see them ever so much," cried Willie. "But, Uncle Ben, where does they live? Cos they can't be running 'bout all the time out-of-doors. I know that." "And they must have some place to put their crops in," said Harry. "Their houses are in the centre of the clearing," continued their uncle. "They are usually rounded mounds of earth, with a depression in the top, of the shape of a basin. In the centre of this basin is a small hole, forming the entrance to the ant city, which is all built under-ground. If you could see one of these mounds cut open, you would be surprised to behold the multitude of galleries not more than a quarter or half an inch high, running in all directions. Some of them lead up and down to the upper and lower stories of the establishment. At the ends of these galleries are many apartments, some of which serve as nurseries where the young ants are kept, and others as granaries where the grain is stored up. The granaries are sometimes one and three-quarter inches high, and two inches wide, neatly roofed over, and filled to the roof with grain. That may not seem much of a barn, but if you had one in the same proportion to your size, it would need no trifle of grain to fill it. " "But you said they were farmer ants," cried Harry, as if he fancied he had now got his uncle in a tight place, "and you haven't said a word about their wheat fields." "And you tole us they didn't keep cows, too," put in Willie, triumphantly. "But I am not half through my story yet," replied Uncle Ben, with a quiet smile. "We have only been talking about their homes and their clearings. Now suppose we take a stroll out to the wheat fields by one of the great roads which the ants make." "Roads!" cried both boys in surprise. "Just as fine roads as men could make. Our little farmers always have three or four of these roads, and sometimes as many as seven, running straight out from their clearing, often for sixty feet in length. One observer, in fact, says he saw an ant road that was three hundred feet long. The roads are from two to five inches wide at the clearing, but they narrow as they go out, until they are quite lost." "But are they real roads? You ain't funning, Uncle Ben?" asked Willie. "They are as hard, smooth, and level as you would want to see, not a blade of rass, nor a stick nor a stone, u on them. And ust think what little tots the are
that make them! That long road I have just mentioned would be equal to a road made by men ten miles long and twenty-two feet wide, and yet it is only the ant's pathway to his harvest field." "Well, that is the queerest thing yet!" exclaimed Harry. "In the harvest season these roads are always full of ants, coming and going," continued Uncle Ben. "There is a great crowd of them at the entrance, but they thin out as they get further from home. They stray off under the grass, seeking for the ripe seeds which may have dropped. They do not seem to climb the grass for the seeds, but only hunt for them on the ground." "It's only oldgrassit ain't wheat after all!" exclaimed Willie, in some, then, and disappointment. "It is the ants' wheat," was the reply. "A grain of our wheat might prove too heavy for them. They generally prefer the seed of the buffalo-grass, a kind of grass that grows plentifully in Texas. It is very amusing to see one of the foragers after he has found a seed to his liking. No matter how far he has strayed from the road, he always knows his way straight back. But he has a hard struggle with his grass seed, clambering over clods, tumbling over sticks, and travelling around pebbles. There is no give up in him, however. He is bent on bringing in his share of the crop, and lets nothing hinder him. After he reaches the road, it is all plain sailing. He gets a good hold on his grain, and trots off home like an express messenger, sometimes not stopping to rest once on the long journey." "Gracious! wouldn't I like to see them?" exclaimed Harry. He had approached his uncle step by step, and was now standing in open-mouthed wonder at his knee. As for Willie, he was not nearly so eager. He had not yet got over his contempt for farmers who did not keep cows. "Is there anything else queer about them?" asked Harry. "There is another sort of grass, called ant rice, of which the seed tastes something like rice. One observer says that this grass is often permitted to grow upon their clearings, all other kinds of grass being cut away, as our farmers clear out the weeds from their grain. When the seeds are ripe and fall, they carry them into their granaries, and afterward clear away the stubble, preparing their wheat field for the next year's crop. It is this writer who says that they plant the seeds in the spring, but other writers doubt this statement." "And you said a while ago that you didn't believe it, either," remarked Harry. "I think it needs to be pretty thoroughly established before we can accept it as a fact." "I think so too," said Harry, with great gravity. "Ain't nuffin more queer 'bout 'em, is there?" asked Willie. "Cos I's getting kind of tired of them. " "You can go 'way, then," retorted Harry. "Uncle Ben's telling me." "No, he ain't. He's telling bofe of us. Ain't you, Uncle Ben?" "Anybody who wants to listen is welcome," answered their uncle, with assumed gravity. "But I don't wish to force knowledge into any unwilling young brains. However, I have only a few more things to tell, and then will leave you at liberty." "Just tell all, Uncle Ben. Don't mind him," cried Harry. "Another strange part of the story is this," continued their good-natured uncle: "sometimes the rain gets into their granaries, and wets the grain. But as soon as the sun comes out again the industrious little fellows carry out their stores, seed by seed, and lay them in the sun to dry. They then carry them carefully back again, except those that have sprouted and been spoiled. These are left outside." "Don't they husk their grain?" asked Harry. "Yes. They carry the husk and all other refuse out-of-doors, and pile it up in a heap on one side of the clearing. Is that all, Harry?" "But you haven't said a word yet about what these seeds are stored up for. Do they eat them during the winter?" "Very likely they do, though they have never been observed at their winter meals. Ants usually sleep through the cold weather. But a warm day is apt to waken them, and there is little doubt that they take the opportunity to make a good dinner before going to sleep again." "But how can they eat such great seeds—bigger than themselves?"
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